Thursday, January 20, 2011

Team Rhubarb

I've never thought much about rhubarb. Heck, I can barely spell it. It always seemed like some pink celery from outer space. Over the holidays, the wonderhub and I ate at Knott's Chicken Restaurant and I ate rhubarb for the first time. It was horrible... cold, soggy chunks that tasted like glutenous sachets from an old lady's sock drawer. So I decided that rhubarb was the devil, an evil, vile,  barely food, on the same list as lutefish or pickled pigs feet.

But there were rumors of another kind of rhubarb, that perhaps I was being hasty in my decision to never let this pink celery pass my lips again. Friends wrote me about the heavenly properties of the stuff, sang the praises of rhubarb pies and jam. Descriptions like, "Best ever" and "so delicious" were thrown around with abandon. What did they know that I did not?

Then this package arrived by parcel post all the way from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. A mom and her eight-year-old daughter had made jam for the first time and they sent me some.  For three days I stared at these two little jars sitting on my desk, glowing like rubies... wondering.

This morning I toasted a whole wheat English muffin, poured myself a cup of coffee and popped open the jar of gingered rhubarb. I spread a tiny amount on the tiniest piece of bread and ate it.

  It. was. amazing.

It tasted like summertime and sunshine. I ate more. Then I tried the raspberry jam. It tasted like fresh fruit picked that morning, not like chemicals. Absolutely incredible. Moreish. Crave worthy. Perfect.

So thank you, Michele and Hannah. You have made a believer out of me. I will always be a member of Team Rhubarb.


  1. told ya so...smiles....fresh rhubarb, sweetened just right is wonderful......

  2. And you were right... this was beyond anything that I had expected. I'm hoping to get the recipe.

  3. Welcome to the Rhubarb appreciation club!
    If you get the recipe, please share!
    I have a great recipe for Rhubarb Fizz - making a citrusy and sweet syrup that you freeze and add to gingerale for a wonderful summertime drink.

  4. OOH!!!! That Michele and Hannah! They're great ladies (and I can say so because I know them personally) and generous ladies! So glad they were able to share some Saskatoon sunshine with you -- the rhubarb there is THE BEST.

  5. And here's the recipe from Michele!

    Gingered Rhubarb Jam

    1 T. water
    1 pound fresh rhubarb, diced
    2 1/2 c. sugar
    3 T. crystallized ginger, chopped
    Zest of a lemon

    Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the jam thickens.

    This makes about four cups of jam and I just canned according to the instructions in the book "The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving". I highly recommend this book for novices!

    Of course, depending on how fast you're going to eat the jam, you could just put it in the fridge.

    Oh ... I might have put a bit more ginger in ... probably rounded tablespoons!

  6. Oh, I'm so glad you have had a happy rhubarb experience, Marilyn. I was a teenager when I tried rhubarb, having requested rhubarb pie because the fruit looked so delightful--yes, like pink celery! Mother warned me that not everyone likes rhubarb, but I was sure I would. How could I not like something so beautiful and exotic? Unfortunately, I did NOT like it, and I still remember the disappointment. I was sure the pink celery and I were made for each other, and it was one of my greatest culinary disappointments that I simply didn't like it. I have to admit I haven't tried it since. Should I ever see rhubarb jam, I'll definitely give it a try. Maybe I can yet make friends with the pink celery!

  7. I think the ginger just makes it! So delish... I think I need to wander off to the kitchen for a little a little smackrel of something... rhubarbish...

  8. When I was a kid in Wyoming everyone seemed to have rhubarb growing in their yard. It was a staple. We always picked some and ate it raw and warm from the sun. It tasted like Sour Grass from southern California. Yum. Then, there was rhubarb syrup. My favorite, especially on buckwheat pancakes. It's sweet and tangy at the same time. Now, I have planted some in my garden just last fall. I hope it makes it and I can share some with my neighbor kids. They love to pick stuff and try new flavors. I hope they DO like it. We'll try rhubarb jam on them and hopefully they will be new converts as you are Marilyn.

  9. SO glad you gave it another try. I love, love, love rhubarb. Rhubarb pie, strawberry/rhubarb crisp or jam. As a kid, I would eat it raw out of my grandma's garden with a sprinkle of salt, but I probably wouldn't do that now. And if a restaurant has a rhubarb dessert (usually strawberry/rhubarb), I HAVE to have it. Store bought stuff is usually not nearly as good. Now look what you've done! You've gone and made me crave rhubarb in JANUARY. That's just not fair!!

    Heidiannie - I'm intrigued by your Rhubarb Fizz. It would be wonderful if you would share your recipe.

  10. A.DORE rhubarb. So much so that I had to look it up yesterday to tell my Chinese mother in law what she was eating. (Even in Chinese, she'd still never heard of it. Heh. The chinese name, translated? "big yellow." Go figure!)

    Welcome to the bitter/sour/AMAZING side of the island. *grin*

  11. I am so happy you have discovered rhubarb. Makes me long for my mama's stewed rhubarb.

    Maybe...just maybe...I'll try your recipe, and remember my mama making her rhubarb.

  12. Rhubarb is very very good! It costs a fortune here, but we planted three crowns in the backyard last year, and have been harvesting more than we can eat ever since! It's particularly wonderful in a pie! Celia xx